MSMEs assist PCC in crafting action plan to facilitate entry and growth of the sector in the Philippine markets
Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) took center stage at the capacity building workshop organized by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat. Held on July 27-28 in Ortigas Center, the main objective of the workshop is to craft an action plan that will better facilitate better the entry and growth of MSMEs in the Philippine markets.
“We recognize that the growth potential of MSMEs can be maximized if they have a fair chance of succeeding alongside larger and more established foreign and domestic players,” said PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan during his opening remarks. “Competition policy aims to make the entry of new players and the expansion of existing businesses easier.”
Dr. Mark William, consultant from Sustineo Pty Ltd., presented key issues confronting MSMEs, such as government regulations and competition restrictions, advocacy activities for MSMEs, enforcement priorities affecting SMEs, and access to infrastructure and credit.
The two-day workshop is the culmination of the APEC SMEs project, which conducted baseline studies to benchmark SMEs issues in similar countries, and focus group discussions with key stakeholders to identify challenges experienced by Filipino SMEs in doing business. Aside from MSMEs and MSME associations, the event was attended by international participants from APEC-member countries like Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Former United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Competition and Consumer Policies head and Melbourne Law School senior fellow Dr. Hassan Qaqaya presented the preliminary findings of the survey on SME owners, senior managers, and its representatives in 17 countries. He highlighted the need for competition authorities to work side-by-side with growth-oriented trade associations and MSMEs that support the role of competition agencies in maintaining competitive markets.
Meanwhile, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Deputy Chair Dr. Michael Schaper presented the expectations of MSMEs from regulators, such as the PCC. Among those Schaper underscored include: (i) dealing reasonably with minor breaches, (ii) implementing laws that are easily understood, (iii) minimizing the role of the judiciary, (iv) resolving business disputes simply, (v) investigating complaints promptly, (vi) providing concise and easy-to-read guidance, (vii) emphasizing MSMEs’ rights, (viii) recognizing MSMEs’ size difference with respect to bigger players, and (ix) providing practical advice and assistance to help MSMEs comply.
Lastly, Malaysia Competition Commission’s (MyCC) former Chief Executive Officer Ms. Shila Dorai Raj narrated MyCC’s experiences in implementing competition policy and law for SMEs during their initial years. She recounted the failures of their advocacy activities (e.g., too technical briefings, many programs not welcomed by MSMEs) and enforcement (e.g. negative news reported by media). She suggested that advocacy activities should be comprehensive and practical that features real case studies and illustrations, and should focus on their rights. Raj explained that this is because competition issues are not a priority for MSMEs. She encouraged regulators to frequently engage the MSME community and form a core group that will advocate and support the agency’s work.
The event was facilitated by Sustineo Pty Ltd., an Australian-based firm specializing in technical and management services to create positive and sustainable social economic change in Australia and across the Asia Pacific region.